Revelation Chapter 16: the events of the seven bowls of wrath - the final plagues of the judgments of Elohim ("God") - His Wrath poured out on the unredeemed earth dwellers
16:1-11 Then I heard (a) a loud voice from the temple saying to (b) the seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of [Elohim] on the earth.” So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and (c) a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and (d) it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died. Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and (e) they became blood. And I heard (f) the angel of the waters saying: “You are righteous, O (g) [Yehovah], the One who is and who was and who is to be, because You have judged these things. (h) For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.” And I heard another from the altar saying, “Even so, [Yehovah Elohim] Almighty, true and righteous are your judgments.” Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And (i) men were scorched with great heat, and (j) they blasphemed the name of [Yehovah] who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on (k) the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became (l) full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. (m) They blasphemed the Elohim of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.
a. This must be the voice of Yehovah ("the LORD") telling the angels what to do, because we have just been told that no one can enter the Temple until the seven final plagues are completed because it is filled with smoke from the glory of Yehovah and His power (15:8).
b. This may be the same seven angels who blow the trumpets.
c. The Greek term for “sore” (helkos) indicates a particularly painful and disgusting sore, like a boil oozing pus that is potentially fatal if not healed. As was noted in the commentary on the first trumpet judgment (8:7), comet fragments impacting the earth or exploding in the atmosphere produce very similar effects to those of nuclear bomb explosions, including toxic fallout. Scientific studies have shown that when comets or comet fragments impact another celestial object (planet, moon, asteroid and so forth), all kinds of hazardous substances (ammonia, sulfur, nitrous oxide, cyanide and so forth) are released into the atmosphere, and some of them react with the elements in the atmosphere producing substances (like nitric acid) that will indeed produce “foul and loathsome” sores on human beings.
d. This is saltwater turning to “blood,” as with the second trumpet plague; except with this plague, because it is “blood as of a dead man” (not oxygenated—no life in it), all salt-water creatures, which take their oxygen from the water in which they swim, die. Again, blood separated from a living body is symbolic of death in Scripture. So, this reference to the sea turning to blood is apparently a figurative reference to death in the sea. Also, some of the substances in comets react with water turning it red, so this might also be a reference to that phenomenon.
e. As happens when the third trumpet plague occurs, the fresh water also turns to “blood” (lifeless).
f. Apparently, angels are assigned to various parts of Elohim’s creation.
g. This is practically a quote from Exodus 3:14-15 where Yehovah told Moses that His name means "I AM THAT I AM" which, in Hebrew is hayah asher hayah which is more correctly translated "I was, I am, I will be."
h. Yehovah’s judgments are just and appropriate for the offense, in this case “drinking blood” (dying) for shedding the blood of (murdering) the saints and prophets.
i. Searing, unbearable heat. This may be caused by cometary impact explosions destroying the protective ozone layer surrounding the earth. Also, this verse and others (e.g. Isaiah 30:26; Malachi 4:1) seem to indicate that massive corona ejections (sun flares) may be involved in the plagues of the Wrath of Elohim.
j. The earth dwellers will still not repent but, realizing that it is Elohim who is causing these plagues, blaspheme Him and refuse all the more to worship Him.
k. This plague targets the “throne [seat of authority] of the beast” (Antimessiah). Rather than the throne of the beast referring to a specific location, it probably is the whole earth, over which the anti-messiah has temporarily been given dominion (cf. 13:5, 7), because his entire “kingdom” (Earth) is filled with darkness by this plague.
l. Scientific studies have shown that a comet fragment just six miles in diameter impacting the earth at 25,000 miles per hour will produce the equivalent explosive force of millions of nuclear bombs and smoke, ash and debri that will darken the light from the sun and reduce temperatures drastically all over the earth for months or even years.
m. But, in spite of all these torturous plagues, the earth dwellers who have received the mark of the beast and worship him still refuse to repent and they continue to blaspheme the Most High God.
16:12-16 Then (a) the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of (b) the kings from the east might be prepared. And I saw (c) three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of [Yehovah] Almighty. (d) "Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, (e) Armageddon.
a. The sixth angel prepares the way for the kings of the east to bring their armies to Israel.
b. Some, in connecting this plague to 9:16, think it refers to an army of two hundred million from China, which is capable of mobilizing such an army. But, as was explained in the commentary on 9:16-19, although the two hundred million “horsemen,” breathing fire, smoke and brimstone, by no stretch of the imagination fit the description of a human army, they match the description of small, boulder-size comet fragments perfectly, or, may possibly be demonic creatures. So, although the drying up of the Euphrates does apparently clear the way for the kings of the east (along with the kings of the other nations of the world) and their armies to advance on Israel, the two hundred million of Chapter 9 do not seem to be those armies.
c. The unclean spirits from Satan, Antimessiah, and the False Prophet go out, as demons, to the rulers of “the earth and of the whole world” (both human and spiritual - cf. the commentary on 14:19), and, through miraculous signs, entice them to gather their armies for the battle that will climax the Day of Yehovah.
d. This battle is linked with the surprise coming of the Lord (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:2) with the armies of Heaven (19:14) to destroy His enemies and restore His kingdom on Earth (19:15-21; 20:4).
e. The Hebrew is Har-Megiddon (the “mountain of Megiddo”). This is, according to most commentators, a reference to the 15-mile-wide battle plain of the Valley of Jezreel in the northern part of Israel, where numerous famous battles in Israel’s history took place. The city of Megiddo was located there. However, Charles Cooper of Prewrath Resource Institute (www.prewrathrapture.com) builds a strong case that there is no such place as “Armageddon” (there was no mountain named Megiddo), which he suggests is both a mistranslation and mistransliteration of the term “Har Moed,” which is another biblical name for Mount Zion. If Cooper is correct, the final battle between the “kings of the earth” and the King of Kings will be centered on Jerusalem, which seems to concur with other passages of Scripture (cf. Zechariah 12:2; 14:2; Micah 4:11-12; Revelation 14:19-20; et al.).
16:17-21 Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and (a) a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, "It is done!" And (b) there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. (c) Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And (d) great Babylon was remembered before [Yehovah], to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. (e) Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. (f) And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. (g) Men blasphemed [Yehovah] because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.
Just as Pharaoh and the citizens of Egypt were given ten plagues as warnings to repent and let Yehovah’s People go before the Hebrews were led out of Egypt and Paraoh and his entire army perished in the Red Sea (Exodus 7:10-12:30; 14:27-29), Antimessiah and his followers are given a series of plagues, but they repeatedly and continuously refuse to repent. Now, their time is up; after the completion of the plagues of the previous six judgments and the sounding of the seventh and final trumpet (10:7; 11:15), they are all destroyed.
All the prophecies (Isaiah 13:6, 9; Jeremiah 46:10; Joel 1:15; 2:12; Amos 5:18, 20; Obadiah 1:15; Zephaniah 1:14-18; 3:8; et al.) regarding the climax of the Day of Yehovah, one of the most frequently prophesied events in the Bible, converge in these few verses. As was mentioned in the commentary on 6:17, the term, “Day of the [Yehovah],” involves much more than this battle or this single day. It includes the return of the Messiah to gather His bride and take her to Heaven, all the events of the Wrath of Elohim, the establishment of the millennial kingdom of the Messiah, and the Final Judgment. But these few days, when all the enemies of the Yehovah, spiritual and human, and the earth corrupted by them are finally destroyed, is the climax that Israel has been anticipating throughout her history. Apparently, the Battle of "Armageddon" has already occurred and the armies of the “kings of the earth” have been destroyed when the following events occur:
a. The voice of Yehovah speaks again from the Temple in Heaven.
b. The (climax of) the Day of Yehovah begins with the usual ominous noises, thunderings, and lightnings, but they are immediately followed by the greatest earthquake in history by far. This earthquake could be caused by the cumulative effect of all the previous cometary impacts with the earth.
c. The earthquake causes the “great city” to divide into three parts. There are two cities in Revelation called “the great city” - Jerusalem (11:8) and modern, prophesied Babylon (17:18; 18:10) - which are the antitheses of one another. The city described in this verse appears to refer to Jerusalem, because she is distinguished from the cities of the nations, of which Babylon is the prototype. And the purpose of this verse seems to be to contrast the fate of each Babylon on the Day of Yehovah:
d. "Babylon the Great," in her second destruction (the first occurred prior to the midpoint of the seven years), is not just split into sections, as is the “great city” of this verse, but is totally annihilated - physically made to disappear from the earth (18:21). Details of Babylon’s two destructions are given in the next two Chapters, 17 and 18.
e. This indicates radical changes in the topography of the earth. Both the islands and the mountains disappear, leaving only the level continents. There is a theory that, in the beginning, when the world was first created, the dry land of the earth was one, huge continent. Whether or not that is true, apparently, this cataclysm is in preparation for the restoration of Earth to its original, Edenic state.
f. This is the final plague to be directly poured out on human beings.
g. And they blasphemed Yehovah even as they were dying. Who could possibly survive 100-pound “hailstones” (boulder-size comet fragments), especially after all the other plagues? - only those specially protected by Yehovah - the chosen Remnant of physical Israel and the God-fearing Gentiles who had not taken the mark of Antimessiah and who had helped the Yahudim ("Jews") during the Final Seven Years.
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Common English translations of Hebrew and Messianic terms used in this commentary:
Yehovah - the LORD or GOD
Yah - I Am (the short form of Yehovah)
Elohim - God
El - God (the short form of Elohim)
Adonai - my Lord or Master
Yeshua - Jesus
Followers of Yeshua -
Messiah - Christ
Assembly of Followers of
Yeshua - the Church
Antimessiah - Antichrist
BBM - Before the Birth of
the Messiah (rather than
BC or BCE)
ABM - After the Birth of the Messiah (rather than AD
For a complete explanation of Hebrew terms used, go to Important Terms and Concepts.
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